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Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber's Response to US Chamber's Negative Advertising in US Senate Race

August 6, 2012

Abraham Lincoln once quipped, “The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.”   I think what Abe was trying to say is that everyday folks view the same situation from different viewpoints.   

This is certainly the case with the US Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber concerning recent political ads.   Specifically speaking, their negative ad against Maine’s former Governor Angus King. 

As President of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, I want to assure you that we do not in any way support or condone this negative ad.  While it is the US Chamber’s right to support any candidate they wish, I personally am disappointed that the US Chamber feels the need to use negative attack ads to influence an election that should be decided by the Maine people.      

I also want to assure all of you that the SMMC does not in any way agree with, support, or condone the negative advertising paid for by the US Chamber of Commerce against former Governor Angus King.   We are extremely disappointed that they have taken what we consider as the “low road” in Maine’s US Senate campaign; we have voiced our opinion to them as such.

Finally, the SMMC does not support any candidate over another.  Don Spann, Chairman for the Chamber’s Board of Directors, states our policy very succinctly, “Consistent with our members’ desires, our Chamber does not endorse candidates for either the local, State, or Federal level. We have and will continue to provide forums for our members and the community to meet with the candidates in order for the voters to form their own personal opinion as to whom will represent their interests the best.” 

Many people assume that all Chambers of Commerce are affiliated with each other, such as a business franchise.  That is not actually the case.  Chambers of Commerce are formed at the local, regional, state, and national levels.  While we all share a similar name and mission, each organization is separate and distinct from another.   Each is its own 501 (c) 6 business association, has its own by laws, its own board of directors, and its membership dictates what programs, services, and level of political involvement it pursues.  As such, no one chamber can direct another to accept a specific stance or level of support on any issue.  That privilege -- and responsibility -- is left to the respective membership of each chamber.      

At the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, we are fortunate to have a growing membership of over 720 business and more than 160 volunteers that direct and assist with planning community events, providing business success seminars, running committees, coordinating regional marketing & networking, and supporting legislative advocacy through education.  These efforts have one collective goal in mind, and that is to make the Mid Coast region the best place in Maine to live, work, and play.  Neither negative advertising nor partisan politics have a place in accomplishing that goal.  We hope you agree. 

In closing, please remember to support your local business community by buying their products and services!   And if I can be of further assistance in answering your questions about the mission and role of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, please feel free to contact me directly by email at president@midcoastmaine.com.   

 

Sincere Regards,

Steven W. Wallace,

President, Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber

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